Wildlife

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

This story was updated Jan. 23, 2015.

Idaho biologists say the number of wolves is likely declining, but their count of breeding pairs of wolves -- a key number used to measure the health of the state’s wolf population -- has actually gone up.

Initial estimates suggested the number of breeding pairs could be as low as 15. But Idaho Fish & Game biologist Jim Hayden said that they have been able to confirm at least 22 breeding pairs, up two from last year’s count.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management plans to remove Western juniper from a 1.5 million-acre area of public land in southwest Idaho to conserve sage grouse habitat.

BLM Boise District Manager Jim Fincher in a statement Friday says conserving habitat for sage grouse is a key method for improving an entire rangeland ecosystem.

The agency is hosting two public meetings to provide information about the plan in Owyhee County. The first is in Boise on Feb. 4 and the second in Murphy on Feb. 5.

Comments can also be sent to the agency by Feb. 20.

Idaho Fish and Game

More than 60 years ago, Idaho Fish and Game dropped beavers out of a plane and parachuted them into the state's backcountry. This little-known piece of Idaho history stars a crafty Fish and Game officer and a plucky male beaver named Geronimo.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

A Boise State University professor will help decide the future of fire management on greater sage grouse habitat.

Political science and public policy professor John Freemuth is part of a national group of experts who will report to the new Rangeland Fire Task Force. This week, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell created the task force.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Hunters participating in a wolf- and coyote-shooting contest in east-central Idaho killed 30 coyotes but no wolves.

Idaho for Wildlife's Steve Alder says the Predator Hunting Contest and Fur Rendezvous that ran Friday through Sunday near Salmon drew less than 100 hunters, down slightly from last year.

A 4.9-magnitude earthquake struck about 60 miles to the north of Salmon on Saturday and was followed by aftershocks on Sunday.

Dan Stahler / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

A hunting derby, with top prizes for wolves and coyotes, is underway in Salmon. It’s the second year in a row for the controversial event.

The group Idaho for Wildlife is handing out a $1,000 each for the most wolves and the most coyotes killed.

A year ago, more than 230 hunters converged near Salmon for the derby. No wolves were shot, and 21 coyotes were killed. Last year, the Humane Society of the United States issued one of the strongest rebukes of the event. It called the contest a “wolf massacre” and labeled organizers as “ruthless.”

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking Indian tribes, government agencies and others to submit information about conservation efforts for the greater sage grouse.

The service said Monday it needs the best data possible to make a decision on whether the bird warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Congress has barred the federal government from spending money on rules to protect the bird, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says it is still bound by a court order to reach a decision by September on whether a listing is warranted.

grizzly, bear, yellowstone
Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

An advocacy group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area of Idaho and Montana.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it hopes to revive a stalled recovery plan for the animals that was finalized in 2000.

The group says having bears in the Selway-Bitterroot would help connect grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park with other populations of the animals in Montana and Idaho. It says the 16-million-acre area could support 300 to 600 bears.

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

The work of rearing threatened plants and animals for restoration to the wild takes time and patience and it is labor intensive. In Oregon and Washington, a growing population doing that work is inmates.

USFWS

The future of the greater sage grouse, already uncertain, may get even murkier because Congress is considering delaying protections for the Western bird.

Congress is considering a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the federal government from shutting down. A legislative rider in the bill would put the brakes on protecting the bird.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

One grizzly bear's incredible 5,000-mile journey across Montana and Idaho has scientists re-thinking what they know about the animals.

Ethyl the grizzly bear walked from Kalispell, Mont. west toward Coeur d’Alene and back east toward Missoula. She covered thousands of miles of mountainous terrain in just two years, and scientists are still trying to figure out why.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator Chris Servheen says Ethyl's story began when she was first captured in 2006 east of Kalispell, Mont.

sheep, pasture, barn
Heidi Schuyt / Flickr Creative Commons

Scientists have found that, contrary to what many people think, killing wolves does not always reduce attacks on livestock.

Researchers at Washington State University found that for every wolf killed in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming over the past 25 years, there was a 5 percent increase in the sheep and cattle killed the next year. Livestock kills only started going down after overall wolf numbers were reduced by more than 25 percent.

The study was published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Three environmental groups have filed a lawsuit seeking to halt a wolf- and coyote-hunting derby set for early January in east-central Idaho.

WildEarth Guardians, Cascadia Wildlands and the Boulder-White Clouds Council filed the lawsuit late Thursday in federal court in Idaho against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service.

The groups contend the BLM violated environmental laws on Thursday by issuing Idaho for Wildlife a special use permit to hold the competitive derby on BLM land.

Federal wild horse specialists from Idaho and Oregon have been trained in how to shoot birth control darts into the rumps of wild horses.

wolf, wildlife, yellowstone
Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park

Federal officials are going through some 38,000 comments concerning a proposed wolf- and coyote-hunting derby on public land in the east-central part of the state.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management's extended comment period ended last Thursday concerning Idaho for Wildlife's request for a Jan. 2-4 competitive event near Salmon.

If the agency grants the permit it will be good for additional derbies for five years.

BLM officials are analyzing the impacts of an estimated 500 hunters on about 3 million acres of BLM land over a three-day period.

Jim Peaco / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr Creative Commons

Federal land managers in Idaho project minimal environmental damage from allowing a predator hunting derby to take place in the north-eastern part of the state.

That’s the finding of an environmental assessment released Wednesday. It’s part of a controversy that started last winter when hunters competed to kill wolves and coyotes during a two-day event.

A federal judge has denied requests from the state of Wyoming, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, and pro-hunting groups to change a decision last week that reinstates federal protections for wolves in the state.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday denied requests to change her ruling.

Wyoming had requested fast action on its reconsideration request because the state had planned to allow hunters to begin killing wolves Wednesday in an area bordering Yellowstone National Park. The judge's ruling bars any hunting.

The Bonneville Power Administration will pay Idaho about $40 million over 10 years to protect wildlife habitat in southern Idaho.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter announced the agreement Tuesday that's part of the utility's requirement to mitigate impacts that hydropower projects in southern Idaho have on wildlife.

The money will be paid to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

About $22 million will be used for restoration, acquisition and stewardship of at least 13.5 square miles of land. Another $4 million will be used to administer the program over 10 years.

Grizdave / Flickr Creative Commons

A company that makes radar technology used to protect military convoys says it can be adapted to help central Idaho drivers avoid collisions with deer and elk on State Highway 75.

The Idaho Mountain Express reports that Sloan Security Technologies last week presented its idea to Blaine County officials and the Idaho Transportation Department.

Company co-founder Brian Sloan says the mobile radar animal detection system alerts drivers with flashing lights when animals are present.

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